My wife and I had planned on being the typical American couple. We’d get married, work for a couple of years (to earn some stability and get to know one another) and then start our family. We had seen our friends follow this same agenda and it seemed simple enough.
We learned it was not always so simple…
Finally, after a decade of trying and reaching the ripe-old age of thirty-eight, we realized that having a baby just wasn’t going to happen the “old-fashioned way.”
So, we sought help.
Only to find that “help” to be very expensive.
The process of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and subsequent pregnancy and birth would cost tens of thousands of dollars, which we didn’t have. But, we did have our house.
Years of scrimping, saving, used cars and brown-bag lunches had allowed us to pay off our school debts and save just enough for a down payment on a small three-bedroom, two-bath house on the outskirts of town.
Vickie and I both worked full time, living in tiny apartments in bad neighborhoods to save money, crunching numbers until they squeaked for ten years to buy that house. It wasn’t much, but it was ours.
A place to have friends over, to plant our own flowers, and to paint the walls whatever shade of purple we pleased…a place of our own. It had been like a dream come true when, three years before, we’d signed papers and moved in, and now it was being made clear to us…
We could have our baby…if we gave up our home.
The market was ripe, and our agent assured us that we could get our asking price, which would leave us just enough to pay off our few remaining debts, complete the IVF process, and find a small apartment near our jobs.
We talked. We argued. We cried.
Finally, we realized that everything we had scrimped and saved and sacrificed for had been leading to this moment. We weren’t being forced out of our home, we were being given an opportunity to have the child we’d always wanted.
And we took it.
More sacrifices were made, possessions were sold, and we found ourselves in, yet another, small apartment. Then the innumerable trips to the doctor, the embarrassing medical tests, the extremely candid conversations with nurses, and the seemingly-unending “are we” or “aren’t we” months of limbo.
We sold our home to pay for the treatments and, after what seemed like an eternity of tests, and medications, and doctor appointments, we finally got the call that it was time. We were scared…no, we were terrified. We had one shot at this, and we’d pushed all our chips to the middle of the table.
When the clinic called and told us that we had four viable zygotes (fertilized eggs), only half of the optimal number, it was another blow. We made the implanting appointment for early the next morning.
Arriving at the clinic, blurry-eyed and stomachs churning, the final blow landed. Now there was only one viable egg, bringing our chances of conception to less than 10%. Our doctor left us alone to talk, and we talked, and we prayed, and we shed our tears.
All of the time, all of the sacrifices, came down to this…we were, literally, putting all our eggs (and we only had one) in this basket, and the odds were not in our favor.
We didn’t have another house to sell, and we were running out of time, so we took our shot, we went all in and laid our cards on the table. It was very quiet drive home, and the days until the follow-up appointment were a sleepless blur.
This July 9th, we will celebrate our miracle’s 12th birthday…this amazing, precocious, quirky little girl with her mama’s beautiful face, and her daddy’s weird sense of humor. Here’s what I want to say to you, my friends who are walking through the valley I know so well…
Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.~Unknown
Talk to each other!
Men and women process strong emotions, like disappointment, frustration, and grief very differently, and the long months, or even years, can make us (especially us guys) want to isolate ourselves, to shut out the world. But this is a valley that we must walk together. We have to talk to each other and, more importantly, we have to listen to each other.
We speak different languages, men and women. Frustration can sound like anger, grief like an accusation, fear like indifference, and in a time when the most important thing is to hold tight to one another, infertility can become a wall between us.
There are plenty of books out there on how to communicate with your spouse, and (I’m talking to the men here)…they work.
I know because I’ve read a few, albeit skeptically at first, and it was amazing to learn what she heard when I thought I was saying something completely different, and vice versa.
Keep the faith.
Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.~ Unknown
Whatever your personal faith may be, cling to it. Whether you pray to a god, the universe, or the power within yourself, do it…a lot. Read books, make plans, make a list of everything you’re grateful for and re-read it, add to it, every day. Talk to others who have gone ahead of you on this journey, and do whatever you have to do to stay positive and hopeful.
Not only is this medically proven to increase our mental and physical health, but it drowns out the voices of our fears.
I know, because we have one.
It’s been years since we sold our little house, and our daughter Grace just turned two.
Nothing about her addition to our family was easy, not her conception, her birth, or her first weeks of life.
We’re in our own home again, and sometimes we talk fondly about our dream house, and the years and apartments that followed, and how different they were from those first ten years.
Because of no matter where we lived, no matter what neighborhood, we were a family.